Review: Matt Colville & Running the Game

Matt Colville is a fantasy writer/novelist, Game Master/Dungeon Master, friend of Matthew Mercer, and creator of the “Running the Game” YouTube series. After watching his GM tips videos and his series aforementioned, I am so thankful to have come across this person in the D&D community. He has been DMing since he was around 15, so he has a ton of insight that he provides on his YouTube Channel. He is also author of a few fantasy novels which can be purchased on his Amazon Page.  I have spent much of my time watching his “Running the Game” videos, and I am astonished! With his help, I can truly say that I feel more comfortable and excited to be the Dungeon Master of my group.

In this article, I will spend some time explaining his presentation and how his ideas are extremely useful. So yes, you will hear more examples from his YouTube videos than from anything else as that is the extent of my experience with him. Let’s break down what we’re talking about:

  • Matt Colville, By His Works…
  • His Video Presentation
  • His Creative Ideas
  • “Running the Game”
  • How He Has Affected Me and My DMing

Matt Colville, By His Works…

While I prefaced with who he is and abbreviated what he’s done, now I’m going to go into a little more detail. Matt was once a writer and story lead at Pandemic Studios for the games: Mercenaries, Mercenaries 2, and Evolve. He also DMed a game of D&D with his friends there. He currently has two fantasy books for sale on his Amazon page. While I have not read these yet, I would encourage you to check them out. From what I have seen, he is an experienced DM with a lot of wisdom to draw from his past campaigns. Therefore, I can safely assume he is an apt storyteller.

You can tell when he is sharing these stories he genuinely had fun with most of them. He says this is because when his players ask him if he had fun, he would ask “well, did you have fun?”. If they said yes, Matt says “Then I had fun”. He adopts the belief that the Dungeon Master has fun only if the Players have fun.

His Video Presentation

When you see him on YouTube or Twitch, you will find that his presentation is well put together. He is concise, informative, insightful, and humorous. The voice that he uses on his videos, by his own admission, is not his normal speaking voice. However, it is a voice that really makes his presentation work. He even speaks in character sometimes on his NPC videos, or he’ll start setting up a situation for you, as though you just sat down to role some dice and play a session with him.

I must admit that I have yet to see anything of him DMing live on twitch, however he does mention it in his YouTube videos. So, if you ever get the chance, I suggest you watch and see him while he’s in the chair in front of some players. From what I have seen and heard from him, I’ve no doubt that he’s great when running the mantle.

His Creative Ideas

Matt has amazingly helpful tips and tricks! You can see so yourself by looking up his GMing videos. I recommend them as they talk about great DMing topics such as creating NPCs, building random encounters, and much more. Matt always uses tools that are constructive towards the Players’ experience. He makes encounters that are surprising and challenging. He generates some wonderful tools that can be used when you find yourself in a pinch. Matt also has many fun homebrew mechanics that he often shares in his videos.

I will note that his Dungeon Master style is more along the narrative side. So, if you’re a new Dungeon Master looking for good tips on how to run a good hack and slash campaign, he has some good advice for that too. However, he has more videos about narrative and politics that you may want to skip. If you’re a Dungeon Master looking for more exciting ways to add flavor to your campaign via good roleplay or politics, then watch every video he has! I’m telling you, you won’t regret it.


“Running the Game”

Speaking of his videos, his video series “Running the Game” is a playlist of videos where Matt talks about well…..running a game. This is by far the best video series about how to Dungeon Master I have seen to date. He covers everything, from building NPCs, to understanding central tensions, to dealing with catastrophic failure.  As I’ve said above, he is very concise, informational, and insightful when it comes to running your own campaign. After all, he has been doing just that for quite some time. If I were to give this particular series a rating 1 through 10, it would be an 11. Seriously, if you have not seen any of this video series…STOP READING….AND GO WATCH!

If you are a new Dungeon Master struggling to keep a game together, coming up with ideas for the narrative, building central tension through politics, generating encounters and bad guys, Matt Colville is someone who can help immensely in this regard. Watching this playlist on YouTube can have a profound effect on how and even why you DM. If you’re reading this, you’re obviously a new Dungeon Master or are interested in being one. Therefore, you have no excuse! Go watch his content now!

How He Has Affected Me and My DMing

I am currently preparing for a campaign that I will be running for a few of my friends. It will be the second time I have ever DMed and at first, I was very nervous. Running a game can be quite daunting and it can be tedious with all the prep work: building your world, creating NPCs, generating epic encounters, etc. Actually playing is even more unnerving because you have no idea what your players are going to do and how they will react to your plot hooks and twists.

However, I have to say that I am so very thankful to have come across Matt’s content. He has covered pretty much every topic I can think of that I have trouble with. Not only has he helped me to be more relaxed and confident with DMing, but he’s also helped me to remain inspired to prepare and create. The past few months or so I have been watching his videos and been hard at work creating a good “framework” for my campaign. I’m not just inspired to create, but I am also ecstatic to play as the Dungeon Master. I cannot wait to see what my players will do, so that I can put the tips and tricks that Matt has given me to work.

The things I have really taken from Matt are as follows:

  • Prepare as much as possible
  • Accept that your plans may not come to fruition immediately
  • You should only have fun when your players have fun
  • Communicate with your players
  • Be patient and openminded

Links for Matt Colville:

Thank you all again for reading! If you follow and watch Matt Colville and you think I’ve not done him enough justice, then please comment below and share your thoughts on the man. If you liked this post, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more content, articles, tips, tricks, and more. Until next time, happy gaming!!

Author: Ven’Orik (Zach)

I’m just a regular nerd with a passion for storytelling and fantasy. Growing up I read books by Tolkein and C.S. Lewis, and this solidified my love for the genre. I first started playing D&D when I was 13 and have been pursuing it since. I’m just here to share my knowledge and hopefully learn a thing or two from all of you as well!